Does your community really understand your hospital’s messaging? (Part 1)

Imagine a world where patients and health care professionals speak the same language and are in sync. Complex treatment options, discharge instructions and follow-up care are fully understood. Patient compliance is as close to 100 percent as possible.

The results of this improved health literacy? Patient health and overall satisfaction is positively impacted. Unnecessary visits to the emergency room, readmissions, medical errors, complications and billing misunderstandings are also greatly reduced.

While we need to be real and realize that we’re a long way from this panacea, more effective communication is achievable. As you think about your specific marketplace, what’s the best way to present content to your unique demographic audiences?

The United States truly is a melting pot where many patients are unfamiliar with our language and culture. What does a recent immigrant from India who is now living in Wichita do when faced with a medical emergency, one that might require hospitalization? Will someone communicate to them in their language of choice in a culturally appropriate manner? Will they understand the care they’re getting? And will that care be provided with a level of sensitivity that they’re comfortable with?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took action in the late 90s to do something about cultural communications barriers. It developed CLAS, the acronym for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care (actually created by the HSS Office of Minority Health).

A national set of standards aims to provide much-needed alternatives to the patchwork of independently developed definitions, practices and requirements concerning culturally and linguistically appropriate services. The commitment is to improve access to care, quality care and health outcomes for all Americans. For more information on CLAS and the 14 standards, please visit

WordPress Lightbox